For better or worse, the USA is the most powerful nation on Earth, even as other nations like China, India and Brazil are rising. The global prominence of the United States makes what Americans think and do as citizens, consumers and workers internationally consequential. These realities drive my work as a sociologist working on the frontlines and frontiers of democracy.
For the last 25+ years, I have worked on the frontlines and frontiers of democracy, particularly on citizen engagement. On the frontlines, I’ve worked as an organizer in student, environmental, labor and political party organizations (and once ran for state office) engaging diverse citizens on local to national issues in Wisconsin, Indiana, Massachusetts, Florida and Virginia.
On the frontiers of democracy, I’ve worked on grassroots innovations from founding a university labor center to conducting a deliberative poll and a student voting field experiment. Since 2012 I have worked as the founder and director of Learning Life, a nonprofit lab based in Washington DC, to test and develop unconventional grassroots approaches to citizen engagement. Learning Life’s work has taken democracy from coasters, napkins and fortune cookies in DC restaurants, bars and cafes, to dialogues between families in DC, San Salvador, El Salvador, Dakar, Senegal, and Jerash, Jordan.
As a French-American dual national and a political sociologist, I write on democracy, citizenship, culture and education, with a longstanding interest in these questions:
- What kinds of citizens are good and bad for democracy?
- What kinds of citizens are Americans?
- How can we encourage more people to become caring, capable citizens on local to global levels?
This blog includes some of my writings on the above questions, including articles I write for Learning Life as well as those that have been published in the Boston Globe, Orlando Sentinel, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Albuquerque Journal and other newspapers. For more about me, please see my bio page at Learning Life. For my more academic writing, please visit my page on academia.edu, and for a more complete list of my writings and other work, see my CV.
For comments and questions, you can reach me directly via Linkedin. I welcome your feedback.
Paul Lachelier, Ph.D.